Humans rely heavily on language to communicate and whether we realize it or not, the words we chose to convey our ideas can have a profound impact on individual and collective views. As animal advocates, the terminology we use is extremely important in transforming the way the world thinks; our word choices can imply a negative or positive connotation.
For example, the word “pets” has been replaced with “companion animals.” Even the reference to ourselves as “pet owners” is outdated. While some people refer to themselves as “guardians,” using the word “caregiver” implies a much greater sense of the kindness and closeness, the relationship of respect and love we have with our companion animals.
With this in mind, it is time to replace the use of “feral cats.” The word “feral” suggests: savage, ferocious, wild. Although some people now refer to feral cats as “free-roaming cats” or “community cats,” each term implies something different. Putting the two together gives a much clearer definition of what these cat colonies are: free-roaming community cats.
We are collectively responsible for their living situation and the environment where they freely reside; therefore, we are responsible for the care of free-roaming community cats in terms of peaceful coexistence, food, health, and spay-neuter.
The use of “free-roaming community cats” embraces the essence of our humane trap-neuter-return efforts as a worldwide standard of care for the colonies of cats living on college campuses, in alleys, apartment complexes, business centers, and our backyards.
“With continued education, the trap-neuter-return movement is growing,” says Mary Beth Mount, Executive Director of Caring Hands Animal Support and Education. “A lot of free-roaming community cats started out as escaped, lost, or dumped companion animals.”
Since the inception of Caring Hands Animal Support and Education, a non-profit led by Dr. Jeffery Newman, DVM of Caring Hands Animal Hospital, their efforts in Virginia, locally and on Tangier and Chincoteague islands, include the trap-neuter-return of hundreds of free-roaming community cats.
“Trap-neuter-return in these areas is truly making a difference. The free-roaming community cats are not reproducing and they are much healthier,” Mary Beth states. “Dr. Newman is active beyond his role as a veterinarian. He is providing an incredible service to free-roaming community cats, colony caregivers, and the communities in which they live.”
The Caring Hands Animal Support and Education team will be returning to Tangier Island in April 2013 and Chincoteague Island in October 2013 to trap-neuter-return remaining unaltered free-roaming community cats and re-vaccinate already altered free-roaming community cats with three-year vaccinations as part of their continuing colony care.
Locally, Caring Hands Animal Support and Education will hold their second trap-neuter-return surgery in Alexandria on Sunday, March 10, 2013 at Caring Hands Animal Hospital, 295 S. Van Dorn Street.
Caring Hands Animal Support and Education has also expanded their trap-neuter-return surgery to Prince William County Virginia; the surgery in Bristow will take place on Sunday, March 17, 2013 at Caring Hands Animal Hospital, 12733 Braemar Village Plaza.
To support these ongoing endeavors, the first Caring Hands Animal Support and Education fundraiser, An Affair of the Arts, will be held on February 24, 2013 from 6pm to 9pm, at Cafe Caturra 2913 South Glebe Road Arlington, Virginia 22206.
The art show and sale includes an amazing array of visual art by Julie Hart, Sara Riddle, Charla Wilkerson, Leslie Garcia, James Walker, Anna Gibson, and Nicole Burmeister. All art sales will benefit the Caring Hands Animal Support and Education initiatives.
- Click here to volunteer and/or schedule spay-neuter surgery for free-roaming community cats at the Alexandria and Bristow clinics.